“Notes on the Carreraverse (A Concordance, More or Less), Part 2” by Tom Kratman

This is a three-part series on the world-building behind Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse, presented with Kratman’s inimitable, deadpan style. Days of Burning, Days of Wrath is now out from Baen Books and chronicles a climactic storyline finale within Kratman’s best-selling Carrera military science fiction series.

1. The Condors.

The idea for these occurred to me after reading a good deal about stealth and doing a good deal of research into the phenom. What occurred to me was a) that stealth is an exercise in energy management, and b) that what we were doing with precision and very careful construction could also be done randomly, via the foam and the convex-concave chips. It took a while, but I eventually tracked down one of the foremost radar gurus in the world, a Dr. Jakob van Zyl, to JPL-Pasadena, and asked him if it would work for low performance aircraft. He was kind enough to indulge me. “Yes,” he said, “It will work in a low performance aircraft.” Dr. van Zyl was then kind enough to give me a short lesson in radar so I could talk the talk.

My initial hope was to have something that could contest the skies over Balboa by, in effect, living in a different dimension from a high performance aircraft, but able to inject missiles into that high performance aircraft’s dimension.

The more I thought about it the less I liked the idea. I still never let go of the notion that it might have a supplementary role, but no aircraft that can be broken up by the near passage of another was really going to meet the goals, which were to buy a period of time free of enemy aircraft overhead, to drive up enemy attrition to unsupportable levels, and to force him away from conveyor belt operations and into having to assemble large packages for aerial attacks, which would cause a kind of virtual attrition.

Thus the Condor, a perfectly good program, was related to other tasks than air superiority, including both strategic and propaganda strikes on the enemy’s homeland, courier work, scouting, and, oh, maybe the odd special operation. But if they weren’t going to work for the three aerial goals . . . 

2. The Mosaic Ds

I started looking for Close Air Support, or CAS aircraft, before I got serious about the air superiority mission. I wanted the equivalent of A-1J Skyraiders . . . 

Oh, didn’t I mention it? No, if I couldn’t find something available here, and at least a rough price, or a way to develop it on Terra Nova, it didn’t go into the series. It’s a game, of sorts, that adds to my own satisfaction in writing.

So Skyraiders; I figured if I could find some, they could be upgraded with turbo-jets engines (easier and cheaper to maintain than pistons, my Air Force consultants insisted), and—voila!—great close air support for counter-insurgency at a bargain price.

Sadly, it was not to be. There were a few airworthy Skyraiders in private hands and in museums. The biggest single chunk, though, had to be in Vietnam, where we’d given over some three hundred and eight of the things to the South Vietnamese Air Force (one of the Skyraider pilots of which ran a Vietnamese restaurant here in Blacksburg. Me: “Did you fly A-1s?” “No . . . me fry Skylader . . . good prane but kirr a rot of pirots.” Yes, just like that.) Of those three hundred and eight, I found that twenty-six were still at Tan Son Nhut, rotting and rusting away, stripped bare of engines and instruments, many of which were, said one report, available for purchase in the local market.

Yeah, I dropped the Skyraider idea.

From there I went looking for Ilyushin IL-2, Il-10, or Avia B-33 Shturmoviks, Russian, Chinese, or Czech; I wasn’t picky. There were some forty-two thousand of the things built, and the Soviets never threw anything away. But they just weren’t available. I found someone who made his living hunting down old aircraft and he didn’t know what had happened to all the Shturmoviks, either, though he thought it likely they’d all been scrapped for their aluminum.

Sic transit Shturmovik.

In the course of hunting for the Shturmoviks, though, or maybe it was the Skyraiders, I contacted the publisher of an aviation newspaper. I don’t recall the name of the paper, but it was small format and the pages were a distinct yellow. I found therein, for about seventeen thousand U.S., apiece, advertisements for depot rebuilt MiG-17 Frescoes. (Fresco . . . Mosaic . . . get it?) They were also offering MiG-19s. The 19s were a little more expensive, maybe 21k each.

There was no outside limit—indeed, the tone of the ad suggested large numbers were available—so I decided on a cognate of the MiG-17 for the air superior mission.

There was more to it, of course. Balboa could expect its runways to be cut, hence the need for ZLL—Zero Length Launch—systems. I think it was retired Air Force pilot Mike Spehar who suggested those. These had been a big thing, conceptually, in the Fifties, with successful tests having been carried out. Add in some more modern avionics, a zero-zero ejection seat, and—again, voila!—the enemy could be forced away from using the conveyor belt system while air parity, at least, could be gained over the battlefield for short periods of time. Hell, maybe air superiority could be briefly achieved if it were timed just right and coordinated with the air defense legion.

Of course, the Close Air Support Mission was still left wanting, so . . .

3. The Turbo-finch

I take no credit for this one but for half the name. The Ayers Turbo-Thrush, a cropduster, already existed in CAS form under the name V-1-A Vigilante. The Air Force will never buy it, of course; it’s not nearly sexy looking enough. There have been upgrades to the concept since I first saw it, more than twenty years ago, hence the Gabriel.

Of course, longer term, aircraft alone cannot secure the skies over Balboa or, at least, cannot do so as well as a mix of aircraft and air defense artillery. Hence, the SPLAD . . . 

4. The Self-Propelled Laser Air Defense system, SPLAD

These things are already doable, have been for close to forty years.

There are reports that the Royal Navy used them in the Falklands against low level Argentine attacks on their ships.

There are issues; for example, fixed versus mobile, especially with regard to power sources, but there’s nothing terribly difficult about them. The Chinese, though they’ve apparently pulled them back, were producing the ZM-87, a fairly man-portable blinding laser, as recently as five years after the 1995 Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons.

So how and why does Carrera build the SPLAD? And what about the legal implications? The how is explained in the books, as I recall; to recap, self-propelled Volgan air defense systems have their cannon removed and two lasers installed, with an extra power source put in where the ammunition would have gone. The why is, for obvious reasons, to aid his legions in controlling the air space above them. Ah, but the legal implications . . . 

Though some claim to see it in him, Carrera is not a stickler, exactly, for the laws of war and especially not for the modern, Soviet- and Tranzi-pushed body of treaties aimed at enhancing guerrilla warfare and terrorism, while undermining the military power of the west. So he would, naturally, read the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons with some care, and would discover that it went entirely to intent, not to capability. And he would exploit that: “No, our intent isn’t to blind them, not to create permanent blindness, but to kill them.”

Yeah, it’s an arguable legal point but, what the hell, he has an army no army of Tranzi lawyers are going to be able to stand against.

5. The Megalodon Class Coastal Defense Subs

There are a few factors that make these kind of special, the selection of crews, their deep diving capability, the clickers, the non-exclusive and odd means of (rather slow) propulsion via boiling and cooling ammonia.

The ammonia trick was mine. I ran it by some engineering types, of course, and they saw no particular reason why it wouldn’t work as described. One physics type objected but, since the navy has “buoyancy gliders, ” also known as “Slocum Gliders,” I tended to ignore this.

Flying underwater, moreover, even in addition to the navy’s buoyancy gliders, is something subs just do.

The clickers? A naval nuclear type, a submariner, informed me, oh, decades ago, that one of the reasons it was easy to not only find a Soviet sub underwater but even to identify which sub it was, was because they cut their main gears mechanically, hence those gears were always a little off, which state made them give off a distinctive click. I figured it would be fairly credible for what amounts to a third world country, newly getting into the sub game, to have that kind of issue built into their design and manufacture.

Deep diving? I am fortunate to live a bit over a mile from the Virginia Tech library, hence I had access to a good deal of fairly high end research papers. In one of these I looked into deep diving underwater vehicles, which could go down as much as eight thousand feet. These had walls about four inches thick. I took factor P, for plenty, into account, doubled the thickness, and just assumed that these cylinders capped by hemispheres could at least go pretty deep, though I am skeptical of them getting down to eight thousand, eight inch thick hull notwithstanding.

I’m not proud; especially. To get to the actual design, I went to a friend of mine, a former naval submariner and Canoe U type.

As for the stealthy aspect of the sub, the conical and pyramidal pieces connecting the pressure hull to the fairings, that was also inspired by Ben Rich in his book, Skunk Works. I chose this approach rather than the F117 approach under advice from that same ex-submariner and Annapolis alum. Yes, once again, defeating sonar is something of a problem in energy management.

One caveat: I have no reason to believe the ammonia technique won’t work, but there are two tradeoffs: 1) it is likely to be slow, hence 2) you may well run out of food before you get anywhere if you don’t use more normal methods most of the time.

6. The Self Propelled Anti-tank Heavy Armor (SPATHA)

This system was driven by a number of factors, notably that tank hulls of obsolete tanks could be had for about their scrap value, that armor equivalent to modern western tanks was probably beyond the capability of a place like Balboa, that without the turret a good deal of lesser quality armor could be added (though beefing up the front suspension would be a good idea), and that a very large casemated gun, firing High Explosive Plastic, could do a number on any tank no matter what its armor was. I acquired this knowledge from a retired tanker, who told me of a test done very much like the one shown to Carrera.

I’ll save where the idea for the armor came from until later.

One thing worth interjecting here; as with the Mosaic-D aircraft, so, too, the SPATHA, the core driving factor is not technological but moral. In short, Carrera can use these obsolescent systems because everyone is expendable. The point of that, on the other hand, is that we are way too overconfident in our superior systems, something some future enemy who takes a more philosophical approach to casualties is going to exploit.

7. GPS Spoofing

One of the really weird phenomena that presented itself to me in the course of writing the series was how very often I would have a question or conundrum, the answer to which would walk into my law office with a legal problem. On one of these occasions, I was trying to figure out if mothballed battleships could be returned to duty in time to support the assault on the Isla Real. Voila; the next day, into my office walks a middle-aged guy wearing a BB-63 baseball cap who had been intimately involved with the deactivation of the USS Missouri. (I seem to recall he needed a will made out.) He was able to give me the details of what was done and how hard it would be / how long it would take to restore the ship to duty. This took the idea of battleships out of consideration, which made defense of the island practical, and led to several other projects.

For GPS it was a Naval ROTC kid—with a bit of a legal problem—who was already signed up for nuke school, once he was commissioned. That’s where I learned that the GPS signal was, in effect, “At the tone, the time will be,” and that GPS determined its position by comparing the time stamps. From there it was a really short intellectual hop to, “If I can delay the signals, and boost them, it will make a hash of the time stamps and confuse the crap out of the receivers. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if the time stamps are encrypted, since encryption has nothing to do with capturing, delaying, boosting, and retransmitting.” I understand that I was not the only one to have figured this out, and somebody else was actually doing something similar at one of the major training centers. And, once again, in case you missed it the first time I said it, encrypting the signal won’t help in the slightest since the method relies only on capture, delay, and boosting, not on decryption.

Now think about that one for a bit; this marvel of modern technology, upon which we are amazingly dependent, can be defeated with, so to speak, “stone knives and bear skins.”

Yes, this should keep you awake at night, worrying.

8. The Dianas

I’ve got a couple of good mine stories. One of them revolved around the Royal Netherlands Marines, an excellent crew in my opinion. In Iraq, in 1991, I was running, for certain highly constrained values of running, humanitarian operations in the area of Mangesh, Iraq. My total area of responsibility included several towns, two of them destroyed ruins from Saddam’s anti-Kurd campaigns. I had enough potable water within the area for the population we had, but one day I was informed to expect an additional fourteen to twenty-one thousand more refugees. For those we did not have enough water or, at least, not anywhere safe.

After you’ve done civil affairs for a while you get a certain feel for how civilization works that books are unlikely to give. One of the elements of this was understanding that towns do not grow up where this is no water. Hence, there was a source of water somewhere in those two towns.

I dismissed the northerly of the two more or less instantly. Although depopulated, it had a still-standing water tower. That meant the source was probably underground and needed for the water to be pumped up to the tower. We didn’t have any pumps available.

Hence, I turned my attention to the town to the south, hard up against the southern face of “Multi-pussy Ridge.” (Yes, there were excellent reasons for the name, five of them.) It was inhabited by one old madwoman, whom one suspects had some excellent reasons to be mad, given what had been done to her town and all.

There was a spring, probably good for about one hundred gallons per hour, in that town. That’s not a huge amount, but I could probably keep about twenty-five hundred refugees alive off that water, so it wasn’t to be sneezed at, either. The problem, though, was the land around it. Problem? Oh, yeah; it was alleged to be extensively mined, but no one really knew where the mines were.

Now, the Dutch Marines I was OPCON to (OPerational CONtrol; it was a very weird command relationship, actually; OPCON didn’t quite cover it) had a pioneer (assault engineer) team attached, led by a corporal. He and I took the team’s minesweeper out to sweep a large enough area to put up tents to billet those additional twenty-five hundred refugees.

This is probably a good time to mention that we—the U.S. Army—lost some troops to mines in the general area, one killed, two very badly wounded, that I heard about. There may well have been others I didn’t know about.

So the Dutch corporal, while putting the mine detector together, mentions, “You know, right, sir, that there are mines these things will not pick up?” “Yeah, I know. You ready?” “Yes sir, now I am.” “Let’s get to it then.” And the both of us—me for not a lot more than moral support - proceeded to, on foot, sweep about a two hundred or so meter square, plus a path from the main road. Yeah . . . we moved really slowly.

That was the inspiration for the Dianas. How so? Well, there were mines that could not be detected by magnetic means. There were, however, soon coming mine detectors that worked by non-magnetic means, ground penetrating radar, or by both. There was also a legal requirement that mines had to have enough metal to be detectable by magnetic means.

Now how would someone defeat those detectors and that legal requirement? I pondered on it a good deal. I think the answer came to me while opening a can for the wife; A metal disk will give the return signal for the radar, and can be stored en masse easily. while a magnet would be enough to set off a normal, old fashioned mine detector. Can’t legally do anything about the requirement for the mines to have detectable metal, no, but we can make an entire area seem so mined that it would have to be cleared the very old fashioned way, by probing an inch or two at a time.

9. The Assemblable Mine

Partly as a result of my not entirely happy run ins with mines, I found the anti-personnel landmine ban movement to be silliness on steroids. They simply had no idea what they were dealing with. I used to amuse myself, when I was practicing law, by calling up one of the offices for the movement and asking them what they were going to do about plastic containers, pre-cast explosives, and sensitive chemicals that could be used for detonators. In feigned high dudgeon I would enquire, “When are you people going to ban explosives? Don’t you fucking care about the children? And what about plastic? Don’t you understand that all a mine is, is explosive, a detonator, and a case? Why the case might even be made from wood. When are you going to get off your butts and get lumber banned . . . ?”
I don’t think any of them ever got the joke. “We’re trying. We’re doing the best we can. One step at time . . . ” “And while you’re dilly-dallying children are being blown to bits . . . ”

But what I did for a joke was also entirely true. It was a very short intellectual step from fucking with the anti-AP mine dummies to literarily having mines made in components that could be easily assembled at need, without so much as mussing a hair on the Ottawa Treaty’s head until they were assembled. Thus, Carrera had zero mines, legally, before hostilities, but in practice could have as many as his plans required.

So why bother? Because the Ottawa anti-AP Landmine ban is an idiots’ treaty, cobbled together by people who had absolutely no idea what they were doing. Oh, and because it was operationally useful to Balboa, too, of course.

These were not the only obstacles created in unusual form for the story . . . 

10. Caltrop Projectors

For a year or so, as a lieutenant, I was my battalion's Support (read: Supply and Transport) Platoon leader. It was a great job, really, though not great enough for me to have put in to change my crossed rifles to become a full time loggie.

Along with other duties inherent to the job, I managed the battalion’s stock of Class Four (building and fortification materials, and obstacles). As part of that, I did a good deal of digging through the engineer manuals to find out how much of X, Y, and Z would be needed for the battalion to be able to build F length of, for example, triple standard concertina. There was never enough. One of the things I found in the manuals, though, were caltrops, four-pointed jacks that always had one (sharp) point sticking up, resting on a very stable triangle formed by the other three. Thirty-eight caltrops per meter of front were alleged to give obstacle value equivalent to triple standard concertina. If I could just have gotten my hands of a couple of hundred thousand caltrops . . . 

Sadly, I was never able to get any; they seemed to be a line item with a zero level of stockage, possibly because of their use for various lawless activities. Nonetheless, my ambition didn’t die and eventually bore literary fruit when Carrera needed a way to suddenly and decisively obstacle a couple of large areas, but in such a way that no one was likely to know they could be suddenly obstacled. Hence the Caltrop Projectors. They were inert, indistinguishable from any other fifty-five gallon drum, and could be emplaced, to all appearances, as a runway blocking device, to prevent air landings, which also put them in excellent position to become drop zone blocking devices. They were also sufficiently low tech—I mean, Hell, Roman legionaries used caltrops—as to be unlikely to invite any attention.

11. The hex plate defenses for fortifications

There are a number of different kinds of fortification on display in the series, from the Stollen (stolen, frankly, from the German preparations for their offensive at Verdun, in 1916), to the above ground concrete jobbies on “rafts” (also stolen from the Germans), with semi-random spacers inside the concrete (that was possibly original to me) to prevent or at least reduce spalling, to the fake defenses of the Parilla Line, to the hex plates over the deep structures on the Isla Real. Most of that is fairly mundane stuff.

On the other hand, as mentioned elsewhere herein, our national arrogance and ignorance about war, where the enemy gets a vote, is going to cost us someday. Why, we think we can penetrate damned near anything with our GBU-28 and -37 series (the -57 series not having been on the horizon at the time).

And so I was in my office, musing on how to defeat them. There were some obvious difficulties here. For one thing, the amount of concrete required to stop them was prohibitive, while any attempt to dig downward enough on the Isla Real was likely to result in flooding. Yes, I kept Carrera within a fairly tight budget, on the whole, and, yes, I try to avoid handwavium. Secondly, using the GPS delay trick to throw them off might be worse than letting them through, since if they went off to the side of one of the deep fortifications, the blast would be, in effect, tamped, and would crack the fortification from the side . . . and rather energetically. It seemed to me that it had to be kept closer to the surface of the Earth than to the fortification so that the blast would have a fair chance of going more up than down or sideways.

It was a toughie.

And then my eyes lit on a book on my desk—I think it was a version of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers—that showed the MI’s torso armor as being composed of hexagons. And that started me to thinking. I picked up a pen from my desk and pulled out a quarter, then imagined what would happen if the pen were a deep penetrator and the quarter a hexagonal plate of sufficient thickness, strength, and toughness that the penetrator couldn’t just go through it, said hexagonal plate being small enough that it wouldn’t provide so much resistance that the penetrator would tear right through, but large enough to increase the cross section to serious reduce its penetration.

There were other possible effects. One was getting the thing to flip to one side, should it hit far enough from center, which would radically decrease the penetration. Another was getting it to expend energy by bouncing left to right, which would also drop penetration substantially. Moreover, it would, if it worked, do so in such a way as to keep the bomb close enough to the surface that the blast could escape upward.

In a phrase, the key was, once again, “energy management.” Moreover, as suggested above, it was this that suggested the armor for the SPATHA. The problem was basically the same; only the scale was different.

Now, maybe my instincts for physics are decent and maybe they are not, but my training as a physicist is non-existent. So I did what I would generally do in these circumstances, I called someone who knew what they hell they were doing and presented the problem and the proposed solution. In this case it was to a professor at the Virginia Tech Physics Department. (I wish I could remember his name but I can’t.) The short version of the answer was, “Yes, for these purposes the earth is effectively a liquid. Using something like this to change the cross section and increase resistance ought to seriously reduce penetration.”

That was good enough for me.

Which leads us to a different fortification problem, an exercise in both offense and defense.

12. The Defense of the Isla Real: the Coast Artillery Brigade, the laser-guided shells, and the Scatterable Naval Mines

The Soviets did, and now the Russians do, have a concept for smart weapons rather at odds with ours. We go for smart or “brilliant,” where they are content with “competent” or just good enough, then couple the relative cheapness of “competent” munitions with mass in their use.. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

To make a long story short, I am not a huge fan of the CLGP, the Cannon Launched Guided Projectile, AKA “Copperhead.” The cost is high, yes, but that’s not the only problem. The big things are lasing a target on a smoky, dusty, confusing land battlefield and coordinating that, via radio, when the Soviets, who took radio electronic combat, REC, very seriously, indeed.

I’m not the only one who realizes this problem, either. The German equivalent of Copperhead, SMArt 155, dispenses with the lasing entirely, as does the Swedish Strix and, I think, Merlin mortar shells.

It occurred to me that the Russians probably had an early laser guided shell or, rather, guidance package, that wasn’t really accurate enough for attacking tanks all that accurately. It would be something that was competent, perhaps, if used en masse but not brilliant.

But, so it occurred, a shell that might be only competent at attacking a small target might well prove brilliant at attacking a much larger one. Thus, the idea for laser guided canon shells to take on the ships of any fleet attacking the Isla Real.

Range, however, remained a problem. That’s where history came in, specifically the history of certain German projects of World War II, notably the Peenemünde Pfeilgeschoss, or Arrow Shell. This was a discarding sabot, subcaliber shell with awesome range, but not enough accuracy. Add, however, a guidance package and the range remains while the accuracy issue goes away. (The idea was also, interestingly enough, picked up by the U.S. Navy with the SAM-N-8 Zeus. I didn’t know about the Zeus at the time.)

Firing at the ocean would be an advantage, there being no dust and little smoke to worry about. While smoke is—at least it can be—useful as an aid to an amphibious landing, it is also likely to add an element of confusion to the toughest and most problematic form of attack there is. But, obviously enough, ships would start to lay smoke as soon as they realized what was going on, confusion or not. Hence the need to have a lot of guns, putting a lot of guided shells out, very quickly.

13. I don’t, personally, have the slightest problem with the expense of modern body armor.

I do have a problem with the weight. The weight makes it doubly safe; it prevents our troops from being hurt while it weighs them down enough to make sure they can’t hurt the enemy, either. (I stole that line from some old king of England or Scotland . . . or both.)

Carrera, however, does have a problem with both. That set me to looking for alternatives.

Lexan? Nope, I called the company and the man I spoke to said, “Yeah . . . no. That article is bullshit. What is happening when we shoot at it is that the hole is passing the bullet through and healing itself.

Oh, well; no Lexan.

The Japanese, on the other hand, made some bullet resistant vests out of silk. They weren’t in that business anymore, but I found that Thailand had developed one, the work being done by the Rajamankala Institute of Technology. These were considerably cheaper than Kevlar, lighter than Kevlar (bulkier, though), and proof against pistol bullets from .22 to .38. That ought to have covered the bulk of shrapnel which had to be guarded against.

These were not adequate, though, against normal rifle calibers. For that, I had to look further. This led me to liquid metal, an alloy—sort of—of metals that don’t like each other very much, hence don’t really a crystalline pattern. What they do form, however, appears to be about 2.4 times stronger than good steel, at less weight. The cost isn’t especially low, so, of course, the legion would limit it to the most important parts than needed to be covered. Hence, we get a fairly cheap set of torso armor, that is not as fully protecting as the higher end stuff, but is much lighter and so more useful for seeking out and destroying an armed enemy in the field.

Note, lest the reader become confused, that is liquid metal body armor, not liquid body armor with an entirely different approach. Yes, I talked to the folks working on that, too.

14: The Explosive Sniffers and the Spray Bottles.

That actually comes from a true story. Circa 2004 I was stationed at the War College. One day they had a “country fair” of all the neat gadgets coming down the road. There were civilians there from the local community, so one doubts any of it was secret.

One of the just ever so cool devices on display was an electronic explosive sniffer. It piqued my interest so I spent some time talking about it with the crew presenting it. It couldn’t yet detect all explosives, “But we’re working on that.” It was extremely sensitive, so could detect what it could detect, so far, at very tiny concentrations, really trivial part per million.

So I asked them, “Assuming your company is successful in getting this thing to detect all explosives, as I have every faith you will, what’s it going to do when the enemy has given every boy in Baghdad a spray bottle full of water and trace elements of every explosive known to man. In other words, what’s it going to do when every tire, every car, every pair of shoes, every dog, goat, and donkey, sets it off?”

Crickets. They’d never even considered that the enemy gets a vote and is just as creative as we are. Yes, I was thinking of Dianas as I asked the question, too.

From here on, I’ll give a very few words on some of the other techno-innovations in the series.

The anti-aircraft missiles in the barrage balloons. Look for the Soviet / Russian Strella Bloc.

The Five Minute Bombs: Pure homage to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

Tree Chaff / “Window” in trees to defeat ground penetrating radar: Wasn’t sure if it would work. Asked an MI type with a sub-specialty in remote sensing. His reaction to the proposal said it would work, even if he didn’t.

Davids: Obviously taken from the German Goliaths. Though you saw them used in an anti-armor role, they weren’t really intended for that.

Volcano: Inspiration came from, especially, the mine at the Petersburg Crater and the nineteen mines used by the Brits on the First Day of the Somme. The actual technique, of course, was different. The somewhat paranoid method of detonation? Have you a better one? Are you sure?

The F-26 Rifle: The only thing in there that may be original to be is the rod in the magazines to tighten the spring on the rotary drums. Everything else already exists; I just brought them together.

Copyright © 2020 Tom Kratman

This is a three-part series on the world-building behind Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse, presented with Kratman’s inimitable, deadpan style. Days of Burning, Days of Wrath is now out from Baen Books and chronicles a climactic storyline finale within Kratman’s best-selling Carrera military science fiction series.